Get Started in the Sign Business

Are you considering joining the sign business but don’t know where to start? Don’t know what you need to know or even many of the good reasons that the sign business can be a rewarding and lucrative career choice for you?

shopVOX is here to help. We work with shops all the time as we service them with our print shop software. We’ve been around the industry for a long time but are always happy to provide beginners with the resources they need to make the best decisions for them.

So, let’s get into it: getting started in the sign business.

What Kind of Business Is the Sign Business?

A “Needs” Business

One of the first things you should know about the sign business is that it’s a “needs” business, a “destination” business.

What does that mean?

Would-be customers aren’t going to be coming into your sign store to browse or get ideas. They’re going to have a need already. They’ll know what they want and will walk into your shop specifically to find out whether you can deliver the solution they need.

For the most part, sign shops are also B2B businesses. Since they tend to cater primarily to other businesses, many sign shops work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Other businesses typically close on the weekends, so it may not make much sense to stay open on Saturdays.

This schedule also gives your employees time to recharge on the weekends and better manage their personal affairs.

A Profitable Industry

The profits in the sign industry are sometimes explosive because of the amount of raw goods that go into sign production. Don’t forget, also, that you’ll be making custom signs that are suited to your customers. That’s why such high premiums go into your sign costs, and that’s why you stand to make a lot of money.

How to Get into the Sign Business

Now that you’ve decided that the sign business is definitely for you, you have another decision to make: how are you going to start out?

We can say with confidence that, no matter what part of the industry you join, you’re going to need a proper point of sale (POS) system to track all your transactions. shopVOX’s sign shop software has what you need to do this. You can accept payment, track sales, and even integrate accounting software such as QuickBooks.

Now, let’s discuss the ways you can enter the sign and print business.

Become a Sign and Print Broker

The first and easiest way we’ll suggest for getting into this industry is to become a sign and print broker. In this type of business, you’ll use your industry connections and knowledge of sign and print products to be a broker for your customers.

You’ll listen to customer requests, understand what they need, and essentially outsource all of their work to the best wholesalers you can find. Many of these wholesalers work on products only for sign shops themselves, which then sell to the end user.

Doing this kind of work can make you 20-30% profit on every job while keeping your own costs low because your overhead and payroll might be almost nonexistent.

The Brick-and-Mortar Experience

Next up is the classic brick-and-mortar store experience. So, you’ll get into a physical location of maybe 1,600 square feet, build out a showroom, a conference room, and the capacity to work on projects in-house.

This kind of venture will take between $50,000 and $100,000 to build up. That’s because of the resources you need on both the front and back ends. You’ll need pieces for your showroom, samples, literature, and maybe even a video presentation showing walk-in customers the type of work you do.

Then, you’ll need to furnish your shop with all the tables, equipment, tools, and other infrastructure necessary to perform around 70% of your work in-house. That work will include wide-format banners, digital printing, laminates, vinyl cutting, vehicle graphics, magnets, rigid sign panels, and more. These are the kinds of products you’ll be selling on an everyday basis.

There will also be pieces to your business that you’ll have to outsource. That’s the work you can’t do in-house. It might include business cards, postcards, and vehicle wraps.

Get into Fabrication

The last option for getting into the sign and print industry is to master the art of sign fabrication. For this, you need to have a lot of experience and years under your belt, and that’s just because there are so many moving parts and departments you’ll need to oversee.

There’s the front end, which has to include a sales and design component, and then all the equipment and personnel needed for the back end, the production line. That line includes elements such as painting, welding, electrical, quality control, and more.

People like getting into sign fabrication because it’s an opportunity to do everything in-house, while outsourcing only a few jobs that you might not be able to manage.

Mostly, though, in the fabrication model, the shop owner is responsible for overseeing the whole sign production from start to finish.

Sign fabrication is where shopVOX’s software really shines, since it helps you to keep everything under control, from inventory to pricing to customer relations and job boards.

We hope you’ve learned plenty in this post about the sign industry and why you might want to get into it. Let us know here at shopVOX if we can ever do anything to help your journey!